The request was first reported Sunday night and has since spawned differing accounts between Prince Andrew’s legal team and U.S. authorities over the nature of the request and the willingness of Queen Elizabeth’s second son to cooperate.
The request itself was made via a mutual legal assistance treaty request, which is typically used in criminal investigations to gather hard-to-obtain information from other states or countries. It’s reportedly rare, however, to issue an MLAT request for an interview like the one prosecutors in New York were seeking with Prince Andrew. Per Reuters, if the MLAT request is granted, Prince Andrew could end up simply speaking with prosecutors, although it’s possible he could be forced to give evidence in court.
While authorities claimed the MLAT request was sent out of a desire to conduct as thorough an investigation as possible, Prince Andrew’s legal team, Blackfords LLP, said “any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing” since Andrew is “not a target of the DOJ investigation.” According to Blackfords LLP, the DOJ had previously assured them that Prince Andrew was not a target of the investigation.
Blackfords LLP also stated that they had offered U.S. authorities Prince Andrew’s help as a witness on at least three occasions this year and that the DOJ had instead claimed that Andrew had declined to cooperate. “In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered,” Blackfords LLP said.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, however, rebuffed Blackfords LLP’s framing and suggested that Prince Andrew has repeatedly declined to cooperate in any way.
“Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offenses committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the Prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally — through the very same counsel who issued today’s release — that he would not come in for such an interview,” Berman said in a statement. “If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open, and we await word of when we should expect him.”
Prince Andrew is one of the most infamous friends of Epstein. In a civil suit, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, claimed that Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew on multiple occasions when she was 17 (Prince Andrew has denied the allegation). Last November, Prince Andrew announced that he would “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” because of questions surrounding his friendship with Epstein.